Sen. Rand Paul was on Laura Ingraham’s radio show today. It’s worth a listen. Ingraham appears to have fully embraced a sort of populist anti-immigration position.
She flatters and then tempts Paul to come out against immigration reform, framing it as a choice between middle-class Kentuckians or illegal immigrants. Paul deftly avoids offending her grassroots listeners, while simultaneously explaining why immigration reform is needed.
Even then, Ingraham pushes back. “For me to hear you talk in these terms, it doesn’t compute,” she says to Paul. “Something doesn’t compute about this.”
I think this shows a couple of things. First, Rand Paul is a very capable communicator. And not just when he’s unchallenged. Paul knows how to thread the needle, and he does so quite nicely here.
Secondly, like the NSA scandal, the immigration debate exposes deep divisions on the right.
On one hand, you have people like Laura Ingraham and Sen. Jeff Sessions who probably oppose more legal immigration.
Meanwhile, you have Paul, who is in favor of immigration reform (though he hasn’t indicated whether or not he will support this bill), and Sen Mike Lee, who is trashing this bill, even has he supports the concept of “immigration reform.”
While not everyone is joining Rubio, Flake and Ayotte in supporting this particular immigration reform bill just yet, it’s important to note that the coalition of conservatives who are nominally supportive of immigration reform is quite strong.